Review of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES – The Rager (2012)

"The Vampire Diaries"

“The Vampire Diaries”

The fear of losing control can be crippling even for vampires

For Elena and Stefan, their mutual fears are going to be their undoing. It was one thing to worry about Stefan losing control and returning to his Ripper ways when all they had to worry about was him. But now that Elena is a vampire, their energies and focus are torn in two stressing about whether she can control her urges or whether she will become a “ripper” as well. It was hard enough for Elena to give Stefan all her love and support when she was a human, but she gladly did. Yet now that she has the same urges and cannot control herself, Elena can no longer be the person Stefan turns to and leans on when he needs help. And, as Stefan finally realized, he had pushed Damon away because of Elena; thus he no longer has Damon to help him either. Making Stefan and Elena the most needy and toxic vampire couple ever. Relationships are always hard, but the good ones work because they have balance: one who needs and one who gives. Yet the balance in Elena and Stefan’s relationship has been ripped out from under them. Stefan was right: Elena has changed. She is no longer the one who can give him the support and strength he needs. Now Elena needs Stefan, not to protect her — but to keep her under control. She is the greater threat now. The imbalance in their relationship shall ultimately push them farther and farther apart. This is why Elena was having the hallucinations of Damon. She instinctively knew that he was the one person she needed when she was out of control and dying from the werewolf venom.

Once Stefan truly realizes what has happened, his heart will break. He always instinctively knew that the day Elena became a vampire, he would lose her. Perhaps that is why he reached out to Caroline. He is hoping to find someone to help repair the growing distance between he and Elena. He knows he needs help and that Elena needs help and he is hopeful that Caroline can be there for both of them. Yet, Caroline is such a new vampire herself. She could help one of them, but both Stefan and Elena, that will be more than she can bear.

So in the end, we see the foreshadowing, it will be Damon who is there to help Elena learn control, and Caroline who will be the life-line for Stefan. But all the while with Stefan and Elena going their separate ways. It cannot be helped. Elena is not the same person anymore. Stefan may be drawn to the new vampire Elena and her strength, but her needs are too much for him. He cannot control her and he cannot teach her self-control. That burden will fall to Damon who has yearned his entire life to be the one person to save someone he loved. Damon has always tried to save Stefan, but it was usually Lexi who really held Stefan together. Damon has been doing his best to step into Lexi’s shoes after killing her, but even Damon has a hard time being there for Stefan. But really, that wasn’t Damon’s destiny. Damon was always meant to be there waiting to help Elena, whether she was human or vampire. And finally his time has come.

Points of Interest

1. As despicable as it was, it was pretty smart how Connor stole the werewolf venom from Tyler. Connor’s ability to assess, reassess and adapt has made him a formidable foe. And now that he has teamed up with Klaus, it will be curious to see what deviant trouble those two stir up.

2. It was actually pretty awesome to see that Klaus was worried enough about Tyler that he returned with a few hybrid bodyguards for Tyler. Klaus’ excuse that he had to because he has to protect every hybrid because he cannot make anymore seemed pretty flimsy. It is more likely that Klaus’ chivalrous side stepped up as he worried that Caroline would be heart-broken if Tyler died. It was also charming how angry Klaus was that Tyler may have been stepping out on Caroline with Hayley. Klaus’ willingness to do anything for Caroline has always been his one redeeming factor.

3. Aren’t we all dying of curiosity to know what it really means that Jeremy could see Connor’s tattoo? Connor said that it meant Jeremy was destined to be a vampire hunter, but what it actually means something else? For example, Jeremy can commune with ghosts, maybe there is something more going on than just marking Jeremy as a potential vampire hunter.

4. Werewolf hallucinations show a person their worst fears, and for Rebekah it was to have ended up alone, unloved and living a life without purpose. So it was kind of interesting that when she saw April cleaning up, and hearing how lonely she is, that Rebekah grasped at the one opportunity available to her to make a human connection and offered to look into the investigation of the fire at the farm house. Nice to see Rebekah has a small bit of humanity left that she can feel the anguish of loneliness; for immortality is not quite a gift when one is cursed to spend it alone.

What Worked

Damon’s sense of chivalry kind of stole the night. He did not meant to. In fact, Damon was doing his best to stay out of everyone’s way and take care of the one piece of dirty business no one else wanted to deal with: Connor, the vampire hunter. It was going to be his last good deed before bailing on Mystic Falls, for he had promised that if Elena chose to be with Stefan, that he would leave. So even when Damon was caught in Connor’s booby-trap at the trailer, Damon resisted the urge to call Stefan or Elena and called Dr. Fell instead. That’s right, Dr. Fell. Even she knew better. She even told Damon, “You are a good brother.” Then as he protested, “I’m the bad brother,” she just reminded him, “You are strung up to a bomb while Stefan plays vampire with the girl who broke your heart. But you are doing a very good job acting like it doesn’t suck.” Then later when Damon tried to recruit her as his drinking wingman, Meredith had the good sense to tell him, “I’m not your new vampire-in-crime. Fix things with Stefan and Elena. Don’t let your pride keep you all alone.”

As much as Damon tries to resist the lure of Elena, he cannot help still doing everything within his power to help her. When he found her searching his room for the white oak stake, he made a playful attempt to dissuade her from her blood-thirsty vengeance — even going so far as to strip down in front of her to deflect her anger — but as we later found out, he must have caved and gave her the white oak stake after all. He just couldn’t bear to not be there for her, even if it meant giving her a weapon that she would regret using. So in the end, it was Damon who was there for her as Elena could not stop feeding on Matt’s blood. Damon saved Matt, compelled away his fear of Elena, and as Elena cried, “What have I done?” Damon firmly told Elena, “Nothing you should be ashamed of. You’re a vampire now. You just have to learn the right way to be one — and I’m going to teach you.” Damon will be the making of Elena; he will be her savior.

While Stefan may have been trying to keep tabs on Elena and ease her through her transition and adapting to her bloodlust cravings and the extreme emotions raging throughout her body, in the end all he could do was take the white oak stake back from her reminding her, “Rage is a very powerful feeling — but guilt, it will destroy you.” He then tried to soothe her raging emotions by taking her out of town and distracting her.

Stefan can perhaps stop Elena from pursuing her vengeance, but he cannot really help her with her out of control emotions and bloodlust. He cannot help her because he, himself, has never fully learned to control it. So it was interesting that Stefan then called on Caroline for help. He needs her to be his salvation, his one last life-line to humanity because he has lost both the people who used to be able to do that for him: Lexi and Elena. His speech to Caroline was as compelling as it was revealing, “You grew into yourself when you became a vampire. You changed — and Elena, she’s changing too. I want her to be able to enjoy it without all the guilt and shame that I went through; and there was a moment today when she did — and when I’m with her, every bone in my body tells me to join her. To enjoy it. But I know if I do, even a little, I risk becoming him — the Ripper. I love her and I don’t want to hold her back.” And finally understanding what he was asking, Caroline told him, “But you don’t know how to be around her and still resists that urge.” To which Stefan admitted, “Damon promised me that he would help me stay off the edge, but he and I, we’re not in a very good place right now. Not when it comes to her. I just thought, you’re so good at it, being a vampire.” Wishing to ease his anguish and worry, Caroline then, “Because of you, Stefan. I’m good at it because of you. Come to me, whenever you want and I won’t let you lose control.”

Caroline may be willing to be Stefan’s lifeline, but surely she does not know how difficult and challenging that burden will be. Caroline has been a lifeline before, for Tyler, but being a savior to a vampire is much harder as vampires are needier. Bloodlust is constant, daily and never-ending. Whereas Tyler’s struggle with his werewolf transitions are subject to the cycle of the full moon, and his bloodlust is nominal comparatively. Stefan could suck the life out of Caroline, not by taking her blood, but by crushing her soul with his guilt and anguish. Then who will there be for Elena? That’s where Damon must step in — and he does. Just when Stefan is admitting his need to have Caroline around, Damon is the one standing by Elena’s side, protecting Matt and saving Elena from herself.

The eternal struggle for Stefan and Damon Salvatores shall not be over Elena, but in bearing the burdens of their vampire lives — and it is curious to see how they each find such different ways of coping. One clings to life and the other death. Damon celebrates life and yearns for more, while Stefan hides from life and tries to restrain himself from craving more. Two brothers so different and yet so intertwined in each other’s fates. Curious.

Finally, a shout-out to Matt who does not have the strength of vampires nor perhaps their etched in stone destinies, but yet who had the strength to listen to Rebekah’s maniacal ramblings of her murderous rampage that nearly killed him, and who was then able to leave without saying a word, and capping it off by coldly and calculatingly off her up to Connor. Matt doesn’t need to lift one finger or to say one word to Rebekah, her own fate will destroy her if she does not find a way to change her life and seek true redemption.

What Didn’t Work

It was noble and cheer-worthy when Matt step up and saved Elena from Connor by letting her feed on him in the church, but now a line has been crossed. Matt should not be a human blood source for Elena just because he feels grateful that she saved his life. It relegates Matt to being literal “meat” on the show. So not cool. If Matt can stand up to Rebekah for her petty, childish and murderous behavior, Matt should be able to tell Elena that she needs to find another way to survive.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“The Rager” written by Brian Young, and directed by Lance Anderson. ‘The Vampire Diaries’ stars Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Joseph Morgan, Steven R. McQueen, Candice Accola, Katerina Graham, Michael Trevino, Zach Roerig, Torrey Devitto, Claire Holt. ‘The Vampire Diaries’ airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.

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